a christ-centered community of curious leaders

Leading Well is a community
Leading Well seeks to help ministry leaders of curious leaders who seek to live and lead well in a time of constant disruption. This community is for pastors, deacons, and all church leaders who wish to learn and grow together, to support and resource each other, and to find new ways of being church together. Leading Well hosts two online communities – a Leading Well Facebook Group that includes daily posts and opportunities to share resources with each other, and a Surface to Soul app where videos, trainings, and resources can be readily accessed along with messaging other participants.

Leading Well is also a physical event. 
This year’s annual leadership learning retreat will be held November 18-21 in Scottsdale, AZ. It is for anyone who works with paid staff or volunteers in the context of a church. This includes those who are newly called to leading in ministry and those who wish to sharpen their skills. Pastors, Discipleship Coordinators, Deacons, Youth Directors, Children’s Ministry leaders, Worship leaders, Judicatory leaders, program staff, and anyone else who feels the call to follow Christ through service in the Church are all welcome.

This community and annual learning event began as an initiative of the ELCA Lutheran Church and has grown into an ecumenical gathering that embraces leaders from all Christian traditions. Our learning retreats are a unique blend of practical learning and sabbath rest, with a focus on the leader as a whole person. Presentations cover everything from technological tools for ministry to leveraging conflict as an opportunity for growth. This year’s focus is on storytelling.

Our facilitators understand they are more than presenters; they are the stewards of the event. The wisdom shared at the event will come from their prepared materials and much comes from YOU – the leaders who attend, each bringing your own gifts and diverse experiences. Many of our past participants have commented that their greatest “takeaways” came from synthesizing the content with fellow colleagues who also attended! Participants leave the event with an emerging “Leadership Formation Plan” tailored to their context, gifts, and present needs.

2024 Leading Well Learning Retreat

This year’s Learning Retreat is focused on story telling and will be held November 18-21 at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ. The event begins at 12:00 noon on Monday and ends before noon on Thursday.

Our four-day learning retreat helps participants to:

  • Find work-life harmony tailored to their unique ministry settings.
  • Slow down, rest, reflect and reimagine life and ministry in new ways.
  • Clarify one’s strengths, passions, and callings in life.
    Create a rule of life and design a life that supports sustainable ministry.
  • Gain new knowledge and skills to navigate an ever changing ministry landscape.
  • Design LIVING WELL and LEADING WELL road maps to guide people’s faithful next steps.
  • Build skills for selecting, equipping, and encouraging lay leaders.


MON (4:00-5:15pm)

Telling Stories of God’s activity

Re-igniting Evangelism
Rev. Matt Short & Rev. Miguel Gomez-Acosta

By default, most folks tend to think of the “Evangelism Committee” as being synonymous with the “go-get-new-members committee.” In this session, we’ll talk about the heart of evangelism as God’s activity in the world and in our lives, and simple practices that can help you re-ignite a spirit of true evangelism in your congregation.
MON (6:30-7:45pm)

Narratives of Worthiness

Re-writing the Stories We Tell Ourselves
Deacon Tammy Devine

God has created us as whole, creative and resourceful beings. We will begin to ponder the stories that have become obstacles preventing us from living into that fullness. We will discover our top saboteurs and situations when we have been hijacked. By becoming aware of these narratives and questioning their accuracy, we can change how we feel and react to different situations. You will be asked to prayerfully name your first faithful step in letting go of those unhelpful stories.
TUE (9:15-10:30am)

The Stories our Bodies are Telling Us

Listening With our Body, Heart, Mind & Soul
Rev. Jenny Sung

Our bodies hold a wisdom and power we rarely tap into. Learn how to lean into the stories our bodies are trying to share with us. Leave with helpful tools to calibrate and regulate stress and anxiety while leading from a grounded place of sureness and authenticity.
TUE (10:45-12 noon)

Becoming a Storytelling Congregation

Integrating Spiritual Storytelling into Ministry
Rev. Jodi Houge

Pastor Jodi has helped lead an ELCA new start congregation that made powerful use of storytelling to build community. In this session, we will talk about some concrete ways that storytelling can be woven into congregational life to re- invigorate mission, connect us with each other and God (and even those who don’t go to our church!) in life-giving ways.
WED (9:15-10:30am)

Storytelling and Faith Formation

Helping Families Share Their Faith Stories
Rev. Andrea Rose-Metcalfe

Stories make us who we are: the stories we tell about ourselves, our families, our place in the world. Join Andrea Roske-Metcalfe, an ELCA pastor and Moth GrandSlam champion, to think about storytelling as a craft that we can practice (tips & tricks provided!), and about the power of this craft in our homes, our families, and our worshipping communities.
WED (10:45-12:00 noon)

Building a Culture of Generosity

Telling Stories of Impact and Generosity
Deacon Mitzie Schafer, CFRE

Learn how to ground your congregation’s generosity in stories of abundance and transformation. Learn when, where and how to tell stories that engage members and invite them into a journey of generosity using in person and online settings.

Cost and What is Included

The all-inclusive program fee includes tuition, event preparation, particpant materials, housing (if desired), 9 meals and on-site hospitality. Per person fees vary based on the type of accomodation chosen. You may opt to put down a non-refundable $100 deposit (with balance due before the event) or pay the entire fee at once.

Single: $1100 | Double: $950 | Spouse: $500 | Commuter: $675


Franciscan Renewal Center “The Casa”
5802 E. Lincoln Dr. Scottsdale, AZ 85253

frequently asked questions

What about transportation?
Participants should fly into the Phoenix (PHX) airport and take an Uber to the retreat center. Some participants rent a car if they intend to do some sightseeing.
We also encourage ride sharing. About 3 weeks before the event, we invite participants to post on the Leading Well Facebook Group if they need a ride to and from the retreat or if they’re willing to provide a ride for others.

Can I select a roommate?
Yes! If you register for a double room and have a requested roommate, we can accommodate your request. Otherwise, roommates will be assigned based on need and availability.

What should I bring to the retreat?
Dress is casual. Bring attire for both warm and cool weather. Participants typically pack shorts, t-shirts, walking shoes, sandals, a jacket, a sweater, a hat or sun-visor, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a swimsuit. Bring a pen, journal, a laptop or tablet for taking notes and for creating your leadership formation plan.

What can I do in my free time?
Participants may wish to catch up on sleep, soak in the hot tub, read a book by the pool or walk around the retreat center grounds. There are also hiking trails onsite and nearby. You may wish to visit nearby museums, restaurants and other local attractions.

This year's Leading Well Retreat Planners & Presenters

Cris Alsum

Cris has spent her career supporting leaders and teams in different administrative and operations roles. She has experience in a variety of organizations from Christian publishing and church staff to technology and manufacturing companies. She enjoys organizing information and spaces and has a special place in her heart (and on her desk) for paper planners! Cris is married to Will, and they have two young adult daughters. They live in Colorado and enjoy spending time exploring the beauty and history around them.

She coordinates the logistics and registrations. For questions email Cris at: calsum@vibrantfaith.org.

Rev. Miguel Gomez-Acosta

Rev. Miguel F. Gomez-Acosta has a B.A. in Biblical Studies Lutheran Bible Institute of Seattle and a M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary. He served as a parish pastor for 10 years, as a mission developer and redeveloper, before being called to the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA as Director for Evangelical Mission, where he served for 7 years. Today he serves as the Senior Director for New Ministry Development and Evangelism for the ELCA.
Pr. Miguel is an evangelist and missionary at heart which he also lives out as a coach for missional pastors and congregations. He is an IF Associate Certified Coach with over 150 coaching hours, for both individuals and teams.
Pr. Miguel resides in Chandler, AZ with his wife and two young adult children.


Deacon Tammy Devine

Tammy is a Deacon in the ELCA and is passionate about health, healing and wholeness. Through coaching with Devine Coaching, Tammy (an ICF certified coach) accompanies others on their journey to living and leading well. Coaching, retreat facilitation and consulting allow her to walk with God’s people as they seek to live as whole and holy people. Together, we can grow as healthier leaders and healthier communities.

Deacon John Weit

John is a deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and serves in the denomination’s Office of the Presiding Bishop as Executive for Worship. In this role, he oversees the work of the worship team within the churchwide organization and provides leadership on behalf of the presiding bishop in matters related to worship. This includes developing and implementing strategies and resources that support worship in synods, congregations and other local worship assemblies across the ELCA as well as planning and worship leadership for churchwide events. Prior to his call to the churchwide organization in 2016, John served as musician for congregations in Pennsylvania and most recently as cantor to Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester, Mass. John earned a Master of Arts in religion with a concentration in liturgy and music from The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, now United Lutheran Seminary.

Jim LaDoux

Jim is part of Vibrant Faith’s Leadership Core Team and oversees Vibrant Faith’s Coaching School and its coaching and consulting services. Jim oversees the Leading Well Retreat, the Leading Well Facebook Group, and the Leading Well Pastoral Leadership Development Initiative funded by the Lutheran Siebert Foundation. He is one of the contributors to Vibrant Faith’s bi-weekly Familying the Faith Podcast and the Surface to Soul learning app resources. Jim lives in Minnesota, is married to his wife, Gina, and is the proud father of two adult sons. He enjoys hiking, biking, and kayaking.

Rev. Jodi Houge

Jodi Houge was raised by North Dakota potato growers. Incidentally, she likes watching things grow. In 2008, Jodi started Humble Walk Lutheran Church in a coffee shop during her last year of seminary and for many years, was running to catch up with where this community led her. Humble Walk is filled with people on the last train out of Christianity-who have decided to give it one more go. Being the pastor of this new church plant provided stories of hope every single day. Jodi is now an Associate Pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul, MN. She spends a good deal of time drinking coffee and observing life in the West End of St Paul, MN–where she lives with her husband and 2 offspring. Her friends would describe her as a good eater.

Rev. Jenny Sung

Reverend Jenny Sung is an ordained #FreeRangePastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America meaning she spends most of her time traveling, preaching, speaking, writing, and coaching leaders how to heal through brave love and beloved community. She received her Masters of Divinity through Luther Seminary and is the founder and co-director of One Dance Company, a professional modern dance company in the Twin Cities.

Deacon Mitzie Schafer, CFRE

Mitzie is a Deacon in the ELCA, a Partner with GSB Fundraising, and holds her CFRE. She has more than 15 years of experience in non-profit executive leadership and fund-raising for non-profit organizations including Epworth Children’s Home in Columbia, SC, the ELCA Foundation, and NovusWay. One of her specialties is helping non-profit organizations implement systematic, best-practice approaches that shift toxic institutional cultures to healthy, thriving ministries. The focus is on relationship deposits, transparency, human resource management, communication, and accountability. She utilizes these strategies to strengthen relationships among staff, the board, and constituents. She also specializes in growing passion, engagement, and giving to non-profits. Mitzie is an avid quilter, writer, and artist living in Prosperity, SC with her husband, Pastor Jason, and two children, Ella and Micah.

Rev. Andrea Rose-Metcalfe

Andrea Roske-Metcalfe is a writer, pastor, and storyteller. She’s a 3-time Moth StorySlam winner and the 2017 Twin Cities GrandSlam champion. She serves as pastor alongside the people of Diamond Lake Lutheran Church in south Minneapolis, where she lives with her husband, Luke, and their daughters, Clem and Oli.

Rev. Matthew Short

Matthew is a husband, father, and Lutheran pastor who has richly benefited from this event as a participant. He now assists in leading the worship life of Leading Well, and integrating the learning, worship, and sabbath time into a cohesive experience for all who attend. He serves as the Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelical Mission in the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA.

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